Well, it’s almost Christmas, so why not if you feel so led, consider giving a child a gift by getting involved in Operation Christmas Child – you can even send a pre-packed shoebox by donating online if you can’t manage to do this in person.
Today, Open Doors, the Christian charity serving the persecuted church and highlighting some of the suffering going on in the world, shared this update about Christians in Sudan, and a call to fellow Spirit-filled believers to pray for those in need.
I hope you find this helpful, God bless you for praying. ❤
I have a tendency at times to be a bit of a worrier. However, there is a Peace and a Love in Christ that is beyond words, and I have been experiencing it again, and I am so grateful for how Real and tangible and present His Love Is – with a purity and cleanness and joy like nothing else.
I used to think Christians were a bit strange, I used to think of myself as morally ‘pretty good’, and a spiritual person, a Truth seeker. An encounter with Jesus Christ showed me that He Is The Truth, and I was absolutely flooded with Love and Joy and the Pure Clean Presence of His Spirit. I realised that for years of my life I had actually been taking in lies, chained by darkness, and had missed the Living God, but He had mercy on me.
Light shows up darkness. We all think we’re ‘pretty good’ until Perfect Light shows that within us is a darkness and wretchedness and that we need forgiveness. Maybe that sounds a bit hard to take in, but if you can, if you do admit to yourself and to God that you are a sinner, Whom He Loved and gave His Life for at the Cross, and receive His Forgiveness then a transformation does take place within – when you repent, and believe in Jesus Christ crucified and raised from the dead and call upon his Name – things become supernaturally Real.
Even if the people around you do not see it, you will know. And even if you are a worrier, even though we are sinners, the Love and Peace and Purity that will flood your soul will Hold you.
I am experiencing the Pure Love and Peace of His Presence again. I am thankful that when we are called to stand before Him, I will be able to stand covered in His Light and Pure, exquisite, incomparable Love, and not ashamed by my own darkness.
Hi friends, I must admit that the mornings here in Scotland are getting a bit challenging for me to deal with at the moment. I’m not sure if the sun is shining in your part of the world, but where I am the sky is a big grey sheet and it is drizzling with rain. Trees are bare branched and there is a bit of a wind whistling through them. I and many others are probably longing for spring and a bit of sunshine (when hopefully the general population won’t go crazy and be irresponsible with going outside or forgetting about social distancing…but that’s for another chapter!).
Whatever the weather is like where you are, it is part of the human condition to sometimes struggle with focusing on the things that our bodies, minds and hearts experience that might get us down. We need to have a plan in place for times like that and the more we can implement better thought habits the better we will be for it through the course of our lives.
My sleep was a bit unsettled, I woke up with unsettling feelings and thoughts inside, and then I woke up to grey skies and a ‘dreich’ day as the Scots say. I knew that I had to get out of my head a bit and so I opened the patio door and got some fresh air on my face. I could see and hear birds, and even saw a fox running behind our garden fence! I appreciate these things having lived the first part of lockdown 1.0 on my own in a tall flat with no garden space or balcony!
It did me good to get some fresh air, but I still felt unsettled. I had breakfast and did some exercise, all the while building up on the new and more helpful thought patterns and neural pathways. This can be effortful at times. We can forget to breathe. We can get lost in the tangle of unsettling thoughts and feelings. We can become overwhelmed and stay stuck focusing on the wrong things. Memories and impressions arose in my mind. Perhaps they do for you, and not particularly the ones you want to remember. Sometimes we want to ‘swat’ them away. Yet there is power in learning to sit with those difficult thoughts and feelings safe in the knowledge that we are not our thoughts, and they will not last.
If you are struggling with things today, be aware of what you are allowing yourself to focus on. As I said in an earlier post, it is normal to have ups and downs, but sometimes those difficult spells can feel really hard to us. That’s why we need Help from Above, and we also need practical tools and strategies.
So whatever it is you are finding yourself focusing on, if it is a negative thing that is, sit with it for a moment, take a deep breath and try to reframe your thought into focusing on something else more positive and productive. The fact that you have read this far in my somewhat rambling blog post is a positive thing in itself! 🙂
Keep moving, feel your feelings, externalise them in some safe way if that helps such as journaling or chatting to a friend, or praying through them to God. Remind yourself that you are not your thoughts and feelings, and that they will pass.
Think of something more positive to turn your attention to and do that for a while. It takes time. We can feel destabilised and discouraged when we feel these difficult things as if we are those things but we are not. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. We are valuable. And there is an important reason we are here today and we all have a purpose. If you don’t know your purpose, I have written a post about that and finding it in the very things that are right in front of us. You can find a purpose for the next five minutes, and the next, and the next and going on from that….so just focus on the next step on those difficult days.
Remind yourself also that it takes time and practice for all of us to make new neural connections, and trains of thought and patterns of behaviour as our brains readjust from negative thought patterns, experiences and beliefs that we may have been used to or conditioned by for many years. But we can make a change and each small step is important.
There are a couple of verses in Christian Scripture that help me and encourage me with this: ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12:2) and ‘You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make /set you Free’ (said by Jesus Christ Who also comforts us by showing us that He Is The Way, The Truth and The Life). John 8:32, John 14:6.
We can be free. And even with everything going on in your life today, you can make progress. If you are in a ‘slough of despond’, if you feel like you have fallen down a metaphorical well and don’t know how to get out, don’t let the darkness overtake you, don’t look down at the ground, don’t stay stuck in your difficult thoughts and feelings – instead, like an intrepid explorer find that spark within you that says ‘keep going’, ‘you can do this’ and like a curious child, look for the solution to a puzzle that can be solved. Look up to the light streaming in that otherwise darkened well, look for the foot and hand holds on the side and begin, one small effort at at time to climb up. You CAN do this.
We will speak again soon, friends. If you are doing well, keep going. If you are doing very well, reach a hand out to help someone else. If you are feeling stuck, you can make progress. Just do that next one thing, and be aware of what you choose to focus on. It’s ok to feel those tough feelings, to sit with them a while, to process them, to responsibly vent them without hurting anyone else, to be creative about it, but don’t stay in that place all day. Focus on something new. Do the next thing. And never give up. x
There’s no doubt about it that the past year has exerted a lot of pressure on a lot of people and a lot of different industries.
Perhaps I’m in good company in being blessed to be able to work from home (albeit using my own devices at present) and have some job security. I am very thankful for this as I know that there are others who are having a hard time, and I know that my work is a gift.
If you are in a similar situation, perhaps you notice that there are certain expenses that you haven’t had this year that you might have previously. For example, in pre-pandemic times I would have a daily commute which meant buying a train ticket on a daily basis. I’d have to buy lunch if I hadn’t had enough time to meal prep in advance, and there were probably other things that I also ended up spending money on. Of course, some of these savings are offset by spending in other areas such as electricity bills if you are working from home. However, if you do have bit of disposable income, then perhaps you can think about supporting local businesses when you do make your purchases. This isn’t always possible, but I do like to be of the mindset that every little bit does help in some way or another.
For example, as it is still the first month of the new year you may find yourself in need of new stationery, diaries, planners and such like. Why don’t you support some local businesses such as those that you can find on Etsy? As a Christian, I also personally like the UK based Christian version called ‘Cheerfully Given’ where I sometimes buy Scripture inspired stationery and gifts.
This post is completely of my own heart and initiative and I’m not sponsored by anyone, but I do feel that perhaps in addition to buying local from time to time, spreading the word can also help people in sectors that might otherwise be struggling or finding it a bit harder than usual to make ends meet.
I’ll leave the links below, and maybe you too can ‘pay it forward’ by recommending some local businesses to friends. We can’t do everything to help everyone, but let’s have faith that the small gestures we make also matter.
And if you yourself are a local business then I hope you find some encouragement that there are still people out there who want to support you in these difficult times.
Take care. Peace. x
Many of you will be looking at 2020 as a year of cancelled plans. Some of you may have benefited from staying indoors, especially if like me, the world around you has a tendency to give you panic attacks on a day to day basis! I’ve certainly found a blessing in being able to slow down and not contend with the world at large so much, and it’s ok to recognise and appreciate things like that.
For some people, it has been hard or inconvenient. People have had to cancel weddings, travel plans, children’s birthdays, postpone graduations or do things online. I’ve missed seeing friends, and for four months of total isolation missed being with my family.
Perhaps surprisingly, 2020 has been a year of celebration for some people too. I have friends who have had new additions to their family, some friends have had babies, others are pregnant with their first or second children and there are yet other people I know of who have also got married this year, or embarked upon a new relationship. Some people have done well in their careers or in some kind of personal project.
Maybe for most of us we’ve either been ‘hanging on’ or persevering and trying our best to ‘keep the faith’, stay positive and help and encourage other people.
So for the most of us who have had our ‘plans on hold’ (at the start of the year, I thought, pre-Brexit, let me travel to as many European countries as I can that I haven’t yet visited – ha! what did I know!), do we dare to dream, to plan?
While our lives may all look very different from one another, I feel like it is important for me to set goals. These may not be ‘new’ goals, but I really feel it is important to have something to work towards. I will have all sorts of tasks to do when I resume ‘work work’ in January, new projects to do, new deadlines to meet. Yet, I also feel that it is important to plan and set incremental goals of continuous improvement and development for myself that aren’t specifically work related.
Some of these relate to my faith and relationship with God, and my consistency in doing my bit, in prayer and handling Scripture better, and in keeping in touch with other Christians. Others may relate to being accountable in terms of staying in touch with friends and family.
I have goals and plans to do with writing consistently with my blog, my novel and other creative pursuits, musical interests and hobbies, health and fitness.
And something else I feel is important is progressing with my mental health journey and part of that I guess is working out a ‘structure’ or plan for myself for moving forwards and being able to tackle the challenges of life and of my mind.
There is so much I can’t plan for right now, so much you can’t either. We don’t know all the ‘ins and outs’ of how this pandemic will pan out (no pun intended!) especially as there have been recent reports of a new strain of the virus. In January 2020 I couldn’t have predicted how ludicrous my plans to see more of Europe would turn out to be, so who knows what we will or won’t be able to do going forwards. Yet, life doesn’t stop, and to stay mentally healthy, we need to keep a forward focus.
Maybe you are planning for an online wedding. (Congrats!). Maybe you are planning for a new arrival. Maybe you, like me, are planning to persevere with your own personal goals.
There are many unknowns, but we can still have faith and vision. We can rise up and meet the challenges of each new day with hope. We can choose faith over fear, and while we don’t know the plan we can set a small goal, and then another, and another, and see where that might take us….
As we approach Christmas, and for those of us who Celebrate Jesus Christ, acknowledge the Greatest Gift ever given to mankind in the Gift God gave of His Only Son to be the Saviour of the world, perhaps we can see this as a perfect opportunity to care for others.
There is so much need in the world, and there are so many people suffering this year. It can be overwhelming, especially if we ourselves are struggling. Mother Teresa once said that ‘if you can’t help one hundred, help one’. You and I are not, and are not called to be the saviours of the world, but we can reach out to help our fellow human beings.
I wonder if you are going through a tough time right now. I send you a hug of friendship and encouragement, and hope that my words can reach you too. Has anyone done or said something that has helped lift you or shown kindness to you? Can you in any way pass this on, pay this kindness forwards?
I think it is good for us, not in a selfish way, but in living out more of our true humanity, in being able to care for others. Even when we are weak, we have something to give. We can give a prayer, even in our most broken times, for the benefit of others. We can give a smile, a kind word, a gift, some money, some food, or even share our talents with the world in some small way. We can give a hug, or make a phone call, we can care for others, and in doing so simultaneously care for ourselves in allowing us to express the kindness that we all so deeply need to share. x
At the start of a New Year we often find ourselves evaluating our priorities and assessing our progress over the past year. Many people have health and fitness goals, however, focusing on things like nutrition is only part of what it means to be healthy, and being spiritually fit, healthy and nourished is fundamental to true success in life.
This post is geared towards fellow believers in The LORD who want to deepen and strengthen their relationship with God and to live a life led by Him. It is also for anyone who is interested in knowing more about God, anyone who is interested in reading The Word of God, but unsure as to where to start.
Over the past few years I have done various ‘plans’ using an online resource called ‘YouVersion’. This provides written as well as audio and visual Bible reading resources, and if you log in and create an account you can see that there is a wide range of resources that include reading Scripture by books in the Bible, by life topics, and many categories so that you will surely find something that will help you with where you are at in life whatever your age, life stage, or situation.
Last year, however, I tried something new, and this was a Bible reading plan via YouVersion that I did with other people in my church. The resource is set up so that you have the option of doing plans individually or with other people. Up until last year I had only ever gone through these plans individually. However, the plan involved reading a chapter of the Bible a day, and at the end of the year this resulted in reading through the whole New Testament. Weekends were ‘reflection’ days so there were no readings for these, which also allowed time to play ‘catch up’. I didn’t always manage to do the readings on a day to day basis with this plan, although I would be ‘feeding’ myself with Scripture on a daily basis in other ways. This meant that I spent lengthier periods ‘catching up’ but I am pleased and blessed to say that I did finish the year long plan and it was a really positive experience.
One of the highlights for me was that at the end of each reading people could comment and reflect upon and discuss with each other what we had all just read. It provided a wonderful new way of learning and gaining insights from other people as well, which I wouldn’t otherwise have when reading on my own, and I think it is important to have a balance of both personal and devotional reading, and group study. I have to say, I only knew a few of the people doing the study to talk to, and most of the others I still don’t know, which gave a sense of being more connected with a wider group of believers that I may not otherwise have had the chance to have any interaction with.
This year another group study has started which I have also joined in with, covering both the Old and New Testaments, and which will take two years (or one, depending on the reading plan and pace you decide to go at). I am excited about this because it feels like a journey together, of daily mutual encouragement and insight, and most of all growing closer to God and His ways.
I also am looking forward to studying more personal topics to me on an individual basis through this resource, as well as through other avenues of Bible study for me this year.
Of course, as with everything it is important to be discerning, and to prayerfully consider which plans to do, especially if any seem to be led more by a person or theme, than by the Pure Word of God. On the whole, however, I do recommend this online resource to be a good way to nourish our souls and spiritual growth in a manageable way, and which helps us to see our ‘progress’ as we journey through the Bible this year.
So, here is the link if you would like to take a look, and praying for all my Christian brothers and sisters that we will all have a fruitful year, in which God Is greatly glorified in our lives, by His Spirit, and for those who are ‘testing the waters’ that you will respond to His call of Pure Love to You to be part of His family and His kingdom.
God bless, and behold the ‘new things’ He Is doing in your life this year! Shalom. <>< x
If you know of any other helpful Christian resources, please comment below.
Well dear readers, friends, we’re finally here, and I’d like to wish you all a very happy December.
This is the time of the year when everyone seems to say “Can you believe it? December is here already, hasn’t this year gone by quickly?”. I personally don’t think it has, but it is a natural time of reflection when the seasons change and the calendar year comes to an end. We ask ourselves where the time has gone, and it is a chance to look back in reflection and also to look forwards in hope.
I’ve never done ‘Blogmas’ before, you know, posting a new blog post every day in the lead up to Christmas. I really like this idea and have often enjoyed stopping by different ‘vlogs’ on YouTube for ‘Vlogmas’.
It’s the 5th of December, so I’ve already missed the first few days, but it’s nice also to blog as we approach Christmas, without necessarily doing this every day. Just as I created my Winter Survival Guide series (my 50th and final post for that series will be coming soon!), I’d like to also blog regularly in December. I love the idea of reading your Christmas themed blog posts, and ‘blogmas’ posts, it is a cosy and comforting feeling.
However, as I contemplated using the term ‘blogmas’ in my title, I realised that it wasn’t really what my heart was going for. Which is why you can think of this as a Christmas blog story, as I like to focus on Christ being the centre of Christmas, rather than blogging or any other thing. It’s just a personal feeling I had for my own blog, but like I said I love all of your blogmas posts and will enjoy reading them. So, what instead….?
Who doesn’t love an advent calendar? I have quite a fondness, even though I don’t have one myself, for those hand stitched patchwork style advent creations with hand stitched pockets. I think we all love the countdown to something special and exciting and worth celebrating.
For many of us, Advent signifies the first coming of Jesus Christ into the world, and the waiting and anticipation of those who lived during that time. Now as a Christian, I can approach Christmas reflecting back with gratitude for Christ’s first coming into the world, and looking forward in hope to His second coming for He will return again, and also celebrate the Christmas season knowing and experiencing personally that He Is Emmanuel – God with us – The One True and Living God, here, and now.
Advent is also a time of preparation, and I love this because as a Christian, preparing my heart for Christ is a daily thing, however at this time of the year it is a new and fresh opportunity to do this with other believers and also to know that the world around us is celebrating and anticipating and that this is an opportunity to share the Light, Love and Truth of Jesus Christ with all.
What are you waiting for?
As a Christian, I wait on God, and I live in the experience of His present love, forgiveness, peace, joy and truth. I wait, and yet I am also fulfilled.
What are you waiting for and preparing for at this time of year?
I look forward to sharing my journey, this year’s Christmas (blog) Story with you as I give you a glimpse into my thoughts, friendships, travels, holiday fun, faith, spirituality, home and lifestyle. I hope you will stay with me as we continue on to the next chapter, and as we hopefully approach what will be a “Merry Christmas for one and all”.
God bless. x
It’s Sunday morning, 9.24am, and ‘Life as it happens to be’ today sees me seeking God for help with anxiety. There’s something about being in the Presence of the Living God, and worshipping Him with His people gathered together on a Sunday, listening to the Truth of the Word spoken, and nourishing our spirits that brings a satisfaction and deep connection with our Creator. In times of worship, amidst the crescendo of praise to our Great God, I can close my eyes and feel like I am connecting one to One with the Lord Jesus. Being part of the family and ‘Body of Christ’ as believers is a beautiful thing, despite the challenges that families do face, it is a connection that is spiritual, and borne out of the pure agape Love of Christ Who unites us.
That being said, the process of managing anxiety, of managing all the practical things it takes to get ready in the morning, prepare mentally and simply get out the door, step into the world and get there on time which can be a big struggle for people with anxiety that isn’t the case for people who don’t have this ‘bug in the system’ with regards to fight / flight, our nervous systems going haywire, and our thoughts looking for ways to ‘get out’ of things, which could be, and as it is in my case, the result of previous difficult and highly stressful experiences in childhood.
We are told to ‘be anxious for nothing’ in Philippians, but to present our requests to God with thanksgiving so that we can experience the Peace of God in Christ that transcends all human understanding. This is our standard, our comfort and our encouragement. But I do acknowledge and give a ‘shout out’ to my brothers and sisters who also struggle with anxiety, crowds and social situations, walking down the street and maintaining composure internally and mentally, that we are humans, we do stumble about, trip over our own feet and get stressed when we can’t find our keys or don’t know what to wear and all the time wanting to honour God but knowing we are kind of hopeless at this thing called life. Is it just me, or is anyone with me? Maybe you see me, or I see you in church and we look like we ‘have it together’. We don’t. Trust me. No one does. That’s why we need Jesus.
And as I try to encourage myself through this post, I’d like to also encourage and remind you that our God Is wonderful, compassionate, patient, gentle, and steadfast and unwavering in His Perfect Love for us. Jesus Christ IS The Good Shepherd, His sheep know His Voice, and we follow Him. He leads us, gently, tenderly, and He also trains us rigorously sometimes to live lives of Righteousness, only possible because of Who He Is and what He has accomplished at the cross – Victory!
Psalm 139 is a beautiful reminder that no matter where we go, or run to or try to hide or what we might be doing, God Is there, right there with us. Always. So even if anxiety gets the better of you and you stay at home, your Loving Saviour is right there with you, drawing you whether or not that be in a church service, on a mountain, in the quiet of your own space, TO HIMSELF.
Yet, in the gospels He also bids us to Come…to Come to Him….and also to get up, to rise and follow Him…one step at a time, knowing that He goes before us and Is our rear-guard of Protection. What a wonderful Saviour.
What about you? Do you have any experiences that you can encourage the rest of the body of Christ / His family with?
Lastly, I sometimes need a bit of a musical encouragement to get me going, so I have been listening to this this morning. xx